The Auton Uprising
While Alien: Resurrection wasn’t the best film in the Alien franchise, screenwriter Joss Whedon introduced a number of new, exciting elements to the Alien-verse - a cloned human/alien hybrid version of Ripley, the crew of ‘The Betty’ (essentially the Alien version of the Firefly crew), and the idea of a rebellion by the synthetics. In Alien: Resurrection it is revealed that, at some point in the mid-late 24 century, there is an attempt to revitalize the synthetic industry by introducing ‘autons’ - second generation synthetics created by other synthetics. Highly ethical and emotional, the autons ended up being “too good,” finding ways to override their behavioral inhibitors. The autons didn’t like being ordered what to do and the government quickly ordered a recall which became, essentially, a massacre and ended up burying the industry the autons were created to revitalize. The autons who managed to escape, including Call (played by Winona Ryder), went underground. In an effort to feel more human, the autons burned their wave modems, disabling their ability to communicate mentally with the technology around them. Call also managed to access the government’s mainframe before the recall, learning about the attempt to clone Ripley and the Queen inside her, as well many other dirty, little secrets. This starts Call on her mission to stop the alien horde in the film.
While the “robot uprising” is a story that has been told again and again, it’s been proven to be a format that works when done in a quality way and the meat is juicy here. Synthetics have always been one of the fascinating elements in the Alien franchise, and the story of the auton uprising in the right hands could be an exciting and original tale set in the Alien-verse and provides the perfect opportunity for a number of fan-nods to the other films.
Alien 5 - The Final Film
When Fox first hired a young Whedon to write the screenplay for Alien: Resurrection, there was also talk of a sequel set on Earth. While star Sigourney Weaver wasn’t interested in an Alien film based on Earth, she did state she would return for a fifth film, if she found the story to her liking. Unfortunately, the film was disappointing at the box-office, and Whedon felt that the fourth film was so mishandled that both parties split ways and the franchise floundered until the death-sentence that was Paul W.S. Anderson’s AvP.
Let’s be honest...we need an Alien 5. Some of you may be shaking your head, but Alien: Resurrection left the beloved character of Ripley in a fairly unresolved state. Despite what your feelings may be regarding Alien 3, the film did give a resounding and appropriate resolution to the character’s story. With Alien: Resurrection, the cloned, half-alien version of our heroine is left with nothing but questions. Even Weaver has commented as recently as 2011 that she “...would have liked to do one last story where we go back to the planet, where Ripley's history is resolved.” Had he not gone on to tackle Prometheus, this would have been the perfect story for Ridley Scott to tackle. Having Scott return to the series in order to give it the ending it deserves would be phenomenal and given Weaver’s desire to travel to the alien planet and resolve Ripley’s history, this would be the perfect film to include Scott’s space jockeys or engineers. The thought of a final film where the alien-hybrid Ripley and “too-human” android Call, travel to the farthest reaches of space to discover the origin of the alien and come face-to-face with its creators sounds nothing less than thrilling to me. Should it be tackled by Scott or another promising director, I will leave the details to them, but I will suggest an ending where the cloned Ripley finally bonds with her alien “family” and acquires the ability to communicate and, perhaps, even “enlist” their efforts. Seeing our war-torn hero acquire the power behind the xenomorph would be extremely satisfying given all the ways she’s been manipulated by powerful entities who seek that very thing.
A Good Aliens vs. Predator Film
So, the AvP films sucked. Big time. Not only did they lack the grace of the Alien franchise and its esteemed list of directors, they directly contradicted the established lore of the Alien-verse. I could go into far too much detail on this subject, but let me just point out that the AvP films negate the entire threat of aliens reaching earth (which is a serious concern within every film in the franchise) by revealing the utterly ridiculous plot point that aliens have been on earth since the late nineties.
The point is that the original Aliens vs. Predator, a Dark Horse comic series written by Randy Stradley in the late 1980s, is amazing and would’ve been the perfect blueprint for a film encompassing the two franchises. While Aliens vs. Predator may seem like a monster title match in the style of Godzilla vs. King Kong, Stradley delivers a story that ties the two species together in a natural and brilliant way. Much like the film version, Stradley made the xenomorphs the unique and deadly prey for the predators, but in a much more intelligent way than the movie. Stradley’s predators respect the xenomorph to the most extreme degree and are well aware of the species' ability to overtake a planet. Taking special precautions to prevent the release of a Queen, the predators infest various back-water planets with a select number of alien eggs and let the hunt begin. Problems arise on the planet of Ryushi when a small colony of humans is established and begin to raise livestock. The planet also happens to be a favorite alien breeding ground of the predators, and when the unknowing hunters seed the planet with alien eggs, all hell breaks loose. A number of unfortunate events occur including the accidental birth of a Queen Alien, who quickly grows the xenomorph ranks by infesting the human colony. When a group of young predators and their elder arrive for their planned and carefully controlled hunt, they are shocked to discover themselves face-to-face with an army of xenomorphs. The elder predator is knocked unconscious and eventually found by human scientists, but the leaderless young predators don’t make the situation any better when they go on a rampage of uncontrolled and honorless kills. Eventually, the elder predator awakens and finds an ally in the tough-as-nails Machiko Noguchi, the colony’s corporate administrator. After the elder predator and Machiko prove themselves to each other, they begin to take on predators and aliens alike, fighting for survival. They manage to destroy the colony and the aliens menace with it, but the predator elder is mortally wounded defeating the Queen. His final gift to Machicko is the “blood mark” of his clan. She has proven herself to have more honor than the predators the elder brought with him. Machiko is featured in a number of other comic series and ends up eventually using her “blood mark” and traveling with a predator clan as they hunt aliens across the galaxy.
With the right director, Aliens vs. Predator could make an awesome film and maintain the integrity and edge of the Alien franchise. The key with these films relies in these two points which have been ignored by the creators of the current film versions:
- Make the human characters as interesting, if not more interesting, than the creatures. The Alien franchise works because we care about the characters, we care what happens to Ripley.
- Yes, it’s called Aliens vs. Predator, and, yes, you will need to show some creature-on-creature bad-a--ery, but you’ve got to remember that these creatures are not professional wrestlers. The xenomorph is a creature that is unsettling sensual in its movements, and the predator is the equivalent of an intergalactic samurai. Not only should the two creatures have a deadly respect for one another, but their battles should be a thing of terrifying beauty and grace.
That’s the end of this transmission, space-travelers. Be sure to look for FBC’s audio review of Prometheus, which will be posted this Saturday.
Until then, this is Bryant Dillon, President of Fanboy Comics...signing off.